tv CNN Special Report CNN March 9, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
prestigious dog show in birmingham, england, according to the owner of the irish setter. a vet told the owner there was enough poison to kill a horse. anderson? >> unbelievable. so sad. thank you vch. we'll see you again 11:00 p.m. eastern. witness, the assassination of malcolm x starts now. the following is a cnn special report. it's fair to say few men were more admired and more hated than mal cook x. he was the voice of reason to many, never afraid to speak truth to power, never afraid to challenge the white establishment about the cruelty and injustice black americans faced. no one was more aware of the tension around him and within him than the man himself. in 1965, after a very public split with the nation of islam and its leader, elijah muhammad,
malcolm x was closely watched by the fbi and cia and he said many times he knew his life would soon be over. but neither his fate or role in history was preordained. malcolm x's story isn't just how it ended, but also about who he was and why he was killed. >> i don't work. i'm a man who believes that i died 20 years ago. and i live like a man who is dead already. i have no fear whatsoever of anybody or anything. >> i feel as though he knew his life was in extreme danger. >> malcolm is tired. physically exhausted. he has been on the road, he spent a lot of time trying to hold fast to his closest supporters and loyalists to get them to go along with him on this journey of his evolving ideas on religion, on race, on
revolution, on self-determination. his family is under siege. there are these skirmishes between his followers and various people from the nation of islam. there are articles being written in the newspaper of the muhammad speech condemning him as a traitor, suggesting that he is worthy of death for his betrayal. and he would be met with death if it were not for the mercy of elijah muhammad. >> we were well aware that his life was in danger. >> the media showed malcolm as an angry person. when in actuality he was reacting to all of the injustice around him. because he was a man of great compassion, of love. someone who was clearly
brilliant, clearly dedicated, impeccable integrity. and who was in a rush because he knew he was going to be killed. >> he said, you know, i'm probably a dead man already. >> he felt and saw his mortality. he felt like these days ahead of him were going to be cut short. >> is your life in danger from the elijah muhammad group? >> elijah muhammad has given the order to his followers that i am crippled or killed. >> he has given out this hearsay affirmation. i'm sure he wouldn't have time to run around and talk about it. he knows he's guilty of things that many men have been chastised for. his fight against the messenger is in fact a fight against god that sent the messenger.
>> the night of february 13th, malcolm in his home in queens, with his wife and four children, was awakened by an explosion. someone had thrown a molotov cocktail into the window. >> what really irritated him was that things had descended to the level where somebody was firebombing a house with innocent sleeping children in it. >> if anybody can bomb my house, they can put a rack of bullets through my head. it was my children and my wife's life at stake. >> it was a stressful time for him. and he still decided to press on. so he scheduled a rally for february 21st of 1965. >> for the first time, to me, he looked a little down. i don't ever remember seeing him down before. even in the most dire circumstances.
>> can you describe what happened here today? >> at about 3:15 p.m., there were about 400 persons present in the ball room here, representing the organization known as the afro-american unity organization. headed up by malcolm x. and malcolm was addressing the audience from a speaker's platform. >> he raised his head in the muslim greeting, like this, his right hand. at that point, a rustling broke out behind us. >> i heard somebody shout, kill him. >> apparently two men approached the speaker's rostrum and fired shots at him apparently from close range. >> as i turn around quickly, the next thing i see is malcolm falling back in a dead faint.
>> the mother threw herself over her babies. she yelled, they're killing my husband. >> i heard shots. and i saw people crawling on the floor. i saw -- so i got down, too. then when i was looking out, i saw someone -- i knew they shot my husband. >> one shot in the lower right chin, and the other six hit in the chest, and the body. >> i looked out at him and i said, he's going to die. i kept saying to myself, he's going to die, he's going to die. >> was he dead immediately? >> no, he wasn't dead immediately. but shortly thereafter. >> malcolm is dead.
this is nearly as bad as the assassination of the president of the united states. >> the assassination of malcolm x was an unfortunate tragedy. it reveals there are still numerous people in our nation who have degenerated to the point of expressing dissent through murder, and we haven't learned to disagree without being violent and disagreeable. >> that summer of 1964, j. edgar hoover sent a memo to his new york office that explicitly stated, quote, do something about malcolm x. we don't know what he meant by that.
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man. >> malcolm little was born into a family of activists. his parents, earl and louise, were active followers of marcus garvey's negro improvement organization. it drew on the themes of africanism, promoting black pride. >> marcus garvey said the world has made being black a crime. i'll make it a virtue. that the world said black history is a curse. black freedom is a pipe dream. black hope is a joke. >> my father's father, papa earl, was a young garvey-ite. he was a minister. it was during the jim crow era. and he was encouraging african-american communities to be self-reliant, to be
independent, to stand up against injustice. it was during a time when lynchings were prevalent. and so my grandfather was assassinated also, tied to the trolley tracks. >> louise was unable to keep the family together. she had a breakdown. the social services came and split the family up and sent the siblings to various foster homes. malcolm attended a predominantly white school. he had charisma, even as a child. his classmates voted for him to be class president. >> most often he was the only person of color in the school. and when he was, i think about 12 years old, he did tell his favorite teacher that he wanted to be a lawyer, and the teacher
flatly told him that negroes can't aspire to be lawyers. that he should be a carpenter. and use his hands. >> malcolm kind of lost interest in school. his half-sister in boston tried to get him to visit her, so she could kind of get him on track. so malcolm went to visit ella in boston and was completely taken by urban culture. and was attracted to the hip cat movement. the jazz and the dance thing and the clothes and the fashion. and he gradually adopted this persona that became known as detroit red. as detroit red, malcolm drifted further away from the garvey roots of his family. into, you know, petty crime.
>> he was a gangster, he was a hustler. those early years did expose him to some of the darker precincts of the black condition. >> malcolm hatched a plan to engage in a series of breaking and enterrings. malcolm made the error of taking some of the merchandise to a pawnshop. when he went back to retrieve the watch, it was a watch, the police were there to arrest him. while malcolm is in prison, his family intervenes. his family had not given up on him. his brother began preaching to him. and i think preach to malcolm, you know, we have found these teachings of islam, they remind us of what our parents taught us, in terms of black people need to do for themselves, support their own institutions,
we need to be morally upright. >> elijah muhammad almost became like a surrogate father to him. and he truly believed in the work that elijah muhammad was doing. and it was very similar to the work that his father was doing. >> i think a lot for you. and i always will. you will go anywhere that i go. >> i was in prison. i was a very wayward criminal, backward, illiterate, uneducated, and whatever negative character type of person you can think of. because of the impact that it had upon me in giving me a desire to reform myself, and rehabilitate myself for the first time in my life, and also being able to see the effect it had upon others, this is what made me accepted. >> it was the love of elijah
muhammad in that cell that transformed him from malcolm little the gangster, to malcolm x the greatest truth teller in the 20th century. >> i had no interest whatsoever in anything serious, or any kind of educational pursuits. >> when malcolm came out of prison in 1952, he, you know, met elijah muhammad. elijah muhammad invited him to stay with him. so malcolm studied with him for a period of time. there was something about malcolm, some people just have this magnetism when they walk into a room, everyone starts focusing on them. malcolm just had this kind of charisma. >> he knew how to talk to people. he could speak to them in a way that made things very clear.
>> america was in the middle of a so-called civil rights movement. >> if you're going to talk about him, you have to understand that very clearly. >> there are people being literally murdered, hung from trees. >> in the southern states of this country, there was terrorism going on. >> that's the only way you can describe it, terrorism. people would be killed, bombed out of their homes. >> having dogs sicked on them. if a dog is biting a black man, the black man should kill the dog. when that black man is doing nothing but trying to take advantage of what the government says is supposed to be his, then that black man should kill that dog, or any two-legged dog who sicks the dog on him. >> malcolm x did something that was very rare in the history of black leadership. >> every mention of the word of
integration by whites -- >> he viewed white fears and anxieties as an afterthought. >> whether it be from the mouth of kennedy. >> most black leaders have to deal with the anxieties to get about. >> on down to the mouth of the lowest raggediest white liberal in the street. >> he described the anxieties as tertiary. at the center for a black awakening. >> we believe that separation is the best way, and the only sensible way, not integrated. >> that pits him radically against the mainstream in white america. >> malcolm could speak in a way that resonated with people in those settings. >> there's nothing that the white man will ever do to bring about true, sincere citizenship, or civil rights recognition for black people in this country. nothing that they will ever do.
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>> did you go to a court to establish that? >> i didn't have to go to court to be called murphy or jones or smith. >> taking to street corner stepladders, sports arenas and ball room platforms across the united states to preach a gospel of hate that would set off a federal investigation if it were preached by southern whites. >> i refer to the popular belief that the muslim's preacher hatred for the white race, you do not subscribe to this? >> no, i've never heard the honorable muhammad preach hatred for anyone. he preaches hatred for evil. >> malcolm was a lightning rod. because he was articulating and giving voice to an alternative political strategy. >> we are for separation, not deg degree gags. >> for me, white people have something what is called an uppety black man, a black man who does not accept the position that they have decided that he
should have in this country. >> segregation by the honorable elijah is forced upon inferiors by superiors. >> for him, malcolm was an uppety black man. and they despised him for it. >> separation is done voluntarily by two people. >> who taught you to hate the color of your skin to such that you bleach to get white to lightness. who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? who taught you to hate your own kind? who taught you to hate the race that you belong to? >> i began to follow him.
i began to read books that he said. i began to understand and believe in, and he gave me a perception on how to view this country. >> it seemed to me preaching hate to greet hate. >> he absolutely believed in the nation of islam. he thought that that was one organization that would help to get black people back on their feet. >> i love my brothers and sisters. >> one day a negro is going to wake up and try to do unto whites what whites did undo us. >> he had so much trouble with most of the black leaders of his day. >> martin luther king teaches you to love all negroes. they sick dogs on them, on their children and babies. >> when he looks at america, he looks at the record. whereas, most of the white mainstream and black mainstream leadership of the '40s and '50s,
it's a country of promise. it was exactly the opposite. >> malcolm is talking about a nightmare. >> no matter what the negro does, he will not get along with whites. i think muhammad's whole philosophy is more intelligent than mr. king's. >> he was not someone who would hold his tongue in criticizing the preacher class, right? the black religious leadership. >> today's gathering is the largest in washington's history. >> he was very critical of established black leaders. >> in the van is martin luther king. >> and of their strategies. and so many people shied away from him because of that. ♪ we shall overcome >> malcolm was very critical and dismissive at the time when people were somewhat celebratory at the success of the march on washington.
>> later, mr. king and the other leaders will go to the white house where the president said that everyone must be impressed with the demonstration of the throngs of the faith and confidence in our democratic form of government. >> malcolm came as an observer. and he called it the farce on washington. an event that had been co-active by the government, co-active by labor. that the leaders of the civil rights movement had been essentially bought off. >> i think the support reflects the desire on the part of our people in this country to try a new approach, a new analysis, a new approach to get a solution now, not ten years from now. >> but martin's response to malcolm was like many responses to malcolm. here was somebody who was saying in public what black people often said in private. just how ugly and how vicious and how barbaric the treatment of black people had been. >> we were also taught that
anytime, anyone, in any way inflicts or seeks to inflict violence upon us, we are within our religious rights to retaliate in self-defense to the maximum degree of our ability. >> as malcolm became popular -- >> these are parents that have been put in front of the negro community. >> in the public outside of the nation of islam. this increased tensions. >> by any means necessary. >> inside the nation of islam. >> to try a new approach. >> people in the media began identifying him as the leader, or as a leader, as the heir apparent. this was threatening to a full range of people in the nation of islam who maybe wanted to be the heir apparent. theological space was widening between malcolm and elijah. malcolm, wherever he spoke, muslims would come up to him and
say, this is not islam. what you're teaching is not islam. islam does not see race. islam is color-blind. the way that you view elijah as a prophetic figure is counter to islam. >> in the name of allah -- >> and then another piece of this, of course, was malcolm finding out about elijah muhammad's domestic life. when malcolm found out that elijah muhammad had fathered these children outside of his marriage to clara, many of these women were women who had worked for elijah muhammad in some capacity as a secretary, or other way. >> malcolm did have a blind faith in the muhammad, who was so fundamentally loved him, rescued him from the muck and the mud.
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his rendezvous with death begins around noontime. death is less than one short hour away. >> november 22nd, 1963 -- >> something is wrong here. something is terribly wrong. >> john f. kennedy was assassinat assassinated. >> the president was hit in the head. >> from dallas, texas, the flash apparently official, president kennedy died at 1:00 p.m. central standard time, 2:00 eastern standard time. >> as malcolm felt himself growing estranged from elijah muhammad and from the nation of islam, malcolm and the muslims in new york had planned a major event. >> the president's body is met by a cordon of servicemen. >> elijah muhammad was scheduled to speak.
after kennedy's aassassination, elijah said no, i'm not doing any public speaking, i'm canceling that event. the ministers in the nation of islam were instructed not to comment on kennedy's aassassination. malcolm gave the speech. he did not comment on the assassination. >> it was very clear that elijah muhammad always wanted to steer clear of any confrontation. >> when malcolm opened up to question-and-answer, the reporter asked him what his thoughts were on kennedy's assassination, and malcolm gave this really thoughtful response about violence. he said, when you have a climate of hate, you're going to get back hate. so if we're putting out so much hate, and we're teaching our children and our nation to hate, then you're going to get all of that back. he said this is a case of
chickens coming home to roost. >> speaking for himself, not muslims in general. and mr. malcolm has been suspended from public speaking for the time being. >> so he tapped the nation's state in the form of you have violence in history that has come back to your young darling, john f. kennedy. that was the first thing he could have said from elijah's point of view. >> while this was happening, cassius clay was training. cassius clay had been introduced to the state of islam. he invited malcolm to come to miami for a vacation. he said bring your family. >> my father was his mentor, his spiritual guide. cassius wins the fight.
he kind of violates his silence. >> i've been silent in the past 90 days because of statements i made about the president of the united states. they were distorted. what did you say? >> i said the same thing that everybody said. that his assassination was the climate of hate. i said the chickens came home to roost. which means the same thing. >> you did not say that you were glad the president was killed. >> no. that's what the press said. >> a couple days later, the nation of islam's annual conventi convention. malcolm thought he would, you know, be allowed to come to savior's day, and maybe speak and this would be the period of reconciliation. he thought he's ready to join publicly. he just won the world championship. clay was invited to savior's day. he's given a prominent place in the program. >> this is a golden muslim
mosque that was presented to me by the islamic council of our leader. >> malcolm isn't invited. malcolm isn't asked to speak. he feels pretty much shut out. he would say over and over again, any religion that does not allow me to be in power, to speak and work on behalf of the freedom of black people, i'll let that religion go. >> and basically, you know, said, i'm about to leave the nation of islam. >> this, of course, was met with great anger and resentment by many in the nation of islam. >> muslims have excommunicated malcolm x. unless he wants to come back into line with the teachings, and the moral principles of islam and the follower of the honorable elijah muhammad. >> when he was out, i knew something was wrong. i called him up the next day.
and he came over and we spent the day talking. we said, we have to set up an organization to do what we can for black folks. >> while all this is happening, malcolm is in need of a recentering of himself. spiritually, politically, and he decided to make the pilgrimage to mecca. >> he had seen it before. there was something about '64 where he was seeing the same thing. he was just seeing it through different eyes. he had already seen black and white people come together. he just was still tied to a blind faith in elijah. so he didn't allow it to penetrate his soul. >> he realized how much of islam he didn't know ritually. the actual experience of the ritual was overwhelming. and transformative. >> since i went to mecca, and
reported that the religion of islam is a religion of brotherhood which includes all mankind, it caused a great deal of wrath in the heart and mind of elijah muhammad who has been teaching that the white race is a race of devils. >> the tensions at home are amping up with the nation of islam, in part because of some of malcolm's words, right? and the attention he's receiving from law enforcement, from the fbi, domestically, from the cia internationally. it's also increasing. >> but he also knows that the nation of islam is very upset with him. >> why are they threatening your life? >> well, primarily because they're afraid that i will tell the real reason that i'm out of the -- i never told them, i kept it to myself. the real reason is elijah muhammad, the head of the
movement, is the father of eight children by six different teenage girls, six different teenage girls who were his private christian secretaries. u. bring us your audacious. we want your sticky notes, sketchbooks, and scribbles. let's pin 'em to the wall. kick 'em around. kick 'em around, see what happens. because we're in the how-do-i-get-this-startup- off-the-ground business. the taking-your-business- global-business. we're in the problem-solving business. 400,000 people - ready to help you solve problems while they're still called opportunities. from figuring it out to getting it done, we're here to help.
condition that will guarantee respect and recognition of the 22 million black americans as human beings. >> but how? >> by any means necessary. >> it was incredibly high-pressure time for malcolm. >> as malcolm's mind was expanding, as his world view was expanding, the space that he was occupying was shrinking. >> valentine's day, a molotov cocktail is thrown into the nursery of our home, my parents' home, where my father's four babies slept, and my mother, of course, was pregnant with the twins. >> i became frightened for his family. because this was the first time that i can recall that there was a direct attack. not only on him, but on his family. >> if you attack me, that's one thing. i know what to do when you start attacking me. but when you attack sleeping
babies, you are lower than a -- >> that's actually where that picture of my father with the rifle came from. he couldn't get protection, and he said, if i can't get anyone to protect me, as a citizen, that i have a rifle, and i will protect my family. >> it was a stressful time for him. and he still decided to press on. so he scheduled a rally for february 21st of 1965. he was going to give the formal unfolding of the oaau platform and plan of action. >> when he arrived, he parked his car with two blocks away. didn't let us know he was arriving. and he walked up broadway to the audubon. he just made himself a perfect target. and he knew better. >> he saw me, and he said, when
you get a chance, come back and talk to me. >> i finished my setup, the tapes, the microphones and all that. and he came back in and said he wanted me to go and make a phone call. he said, do any of you know what reverend milton looks like? i said, i do. he said, go out front. when he comes in, bring him backstage. so i said okay. >> he insisted that i go make this telephone call. and i said, i have to get the stuff set up. he looked right at me, he said, brother, i want you to go make the phone call. >> i sat in the front row. i think i was third from the aisle. >> he insisted i get out of there, get out of the building
where the telephone booth was. while i was in the booth, he stepped out there. >> i heard malcolm say -- >> somebody shouted get your hand out of my pocket, very loud. and then a little bit of a tussle. and malcolm responded by holding a hand up, something like, hold on, hold on there, brothers. >> while i was in the telephone booth, i heard the shots. i ran into the audubon ball room, and people were running out by this time and screaming and crying and cursing. >> my mother put her body on top of us. she covered her babies. because there was all this shooting. >> >> i don't know how many shooters are in there. i mean, this is while the smell of gun smoke is still in the air i'm crawling. my mind is focused on doing my job. >> in the audubon ballroom, pandemonium is the only word
that i can use to describe the scene here. i was sitting in the first row when malcolm came on the stage and greeted the audience with a muslim greeting. as soon as he said that, it happened so quickly, several persons stood up and fired shots. >> you could see a crowd over malcolm up on the stage and i ran down the left-hand side of the building, up on the stage, still had my camera with me and i kept right on shooting pictures. >> someone opened his shirt and i saw all these bullet holes in his body. i remember thinking to myself, she he's going to die, because he was gasping. >> i wish it had never happened. it was the saddest moment of my life.
because we failed him. trying to help him. >> i started talking to everybody i could, to have them reiterate from their perspective what had just happened, and what they thought about it. >> i heard the shots, i ran forward. i told malcolm to hold his side, hold his stomach, he fell down. >> how do you feel now? >> i want to kill somebody. that's right, i want to kill somebody. and before the night's over, if malcolm dies, somebody going to die. >> well, it's a certain noise, and then the two fellas, one was a black muslim and i don't know who the other one was because i didn't see him ran and started shooting. >> they were black muslims? >> yes, they were black muslims, because i recognized them. >> he saved my life, had he not
sent me out, i would have been standing by the tape recorder with my back to the audience. i'd have been shot in the back. >> and stretch from the columbia hospital, right across the street. they just took a stretcher. put him on a stretcher and rolled him out to the hospital. >> the only person that was caught at the scene was thomas hare. >> i believe if he had not been shot in the leg and had not been beaten up by those who loved malcolm, he would not have ever been arrested. he could have gone free just like the rest of the killers. >> evidence points to the fact that hare was the only person convicted for malcolm x's assassination that had a part in it. , emily went right on living. but you see, with the help of her raymond james financial advisor, she had planned for every eventuality.
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>> malcolm is the victim of his own preaching. he preached violence and so he became the victim of it. >> norman butler and thomas johnson, hare initially identified them as co-spir tors. he later recanted. there was no physical evidence that connected them to the assassination. it was all circumstantial. no one remembered seeing them there. >> clearly he posed a threat to
the government. posed a threat to the nation of islam. he posed -- it's so unfortunate. >> you do not personally feel that anyone -- any member of the brotherhood of islam committed this crime? >> no, no, we don't do a thing like that. >> that summer of 1964, j. edgar hoover sent a memo to his new york city office that explicitly stated, quote, do something about malcolm x. we don't know what he meant by that. there are thousands of pages of fbi files that have yet to be revealed for us to know. >> there is no doubt that the afterlife of malcolm x after -- has had more impact than his life. people began to see the truths
he told. the love he displayed. the courage he exemplified, the visions for the oneness of humanity that he was after. >> and what was silenced was a man, a black man, who had thoroughly studied the system that existed in this country. who understood it very clearly and who was developing a cohesive plan to deal with it. >> there will come a time when black people wake up and become intellectually independent enough to think for themselves. >> his voice predicted the urban rebellions in watts and throughout the nation in 1968. his voice predicted the growing frustrations that african-americans would feel as the civil rights progress slowed to a halt. he predicted the ongoing
troubles with police brutality. the growing frustration of black youth who had almost given up. >> malcolm was a young man when the world learned about him, he was just in his 20s. he was killed at 39. and, you know, this man made a significant impact all around the world. in just 12 short years. >> what attracted me the most, we knew we could trust him. no matter where our operation went, he wouldn't abandon us. we came in together, we were all going to go out together. ♪ ♪
>> malcolm x was killed february 21, 1965, 17 days later, the march on selma. now half a century on how much has changed. this is cnn tonight, i'm don lemon, and this has got to make you wonder if america's really made any progress at all on race. ♪ [ bleep ] ♪ [ bleep ]. >> it's disgusting. i'll talk exclusively to the oklahoma sooners star line backer, he's outraged by them chanting the n word among other things. also protests